Written by Gabriela Vasconcellos
Photo by Holanda Cavalcanti
On the morning of October 6, Group members and partners working at the Odebrecht Building in São Paulo (EOSP) noticed that something different was going on. There it was! On the mezzanine level of the sixth floor, near the restaurant, part of the Southern Bahia Lowlands was coming alive. A little later, during lunchtime, they got another surprise: songs with the rhythms of Bahia filled the room, making for a more enjoyable meal.
That is how “Southern Bahia Lowlands Week” opened at the EOSP. It went on until October 10, involving more than 2,000 people. The event showcased initiatives associated with the Development and Integrated Growth Program with Sustainability for the Southern Bahia Lowlands Environmental Protection Areas Mosaic (PDCIS), developed by the Odebrecht Foundation with the support of public and private partners.
“This initiative enabled the Odebrecht Group to see the magnitude and potential of the program the Foundation supports,” says Eduardo Odebrecht de Queiroz, Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Odebrecht Foundation. The event resulted from a challenge set by Isabela Alvarez Odebrecht, who stressed the importance of valuing the work being done in the Southern Bahia Lowlands and the commitment of all Group members to perpetuating Norberto Odebrecht’s legacy.
The program included a special menu at the EOSP restaurant, which includes food made from products produced by cooperatives linked to the PDCIS, as well as the exhibition and marketing of those products. All told, 1,118 units were sold.
Throughout the five-day event, Group members had an opportunity to interact with students and young farmers benefited by Rural Family Houses – teaching units that are also part of the PDCIS. According to Sérgio Leão, Responsible for Sustainability at Odebrecht, this was what made the event unique. “The expo allowed people to understand the significance of these youths’ life plans. We have read about them, we are familiar with them from a distance, but actually meeting them allows us to see how real lives are being changed.” The officer Responsible for ConectCar at Odebrecht TransPort, João Cumerlato, also stressed that aspect of the initiative. “I visited the region in 2006, when I first joined the Odebrecht Group, and fell in love with the social revolution that was going on there. Today it makes me happy to see a project like this. These new rural entrepreneurs are actually getting results and producing.”
Camila Paz, a member of the Odebrecht Real Estate Developments team, enthusiastically supports the initiative. “I’m from São Paulo, and all I know about the Foundation’s work is what I read in the company’s in-house communications. When you see it first hand, you get a different perspective. It’s interesting to see these young people show us what they are doing and explain how it works.”
Interactions that get results
Visitors also learned about the Odebrecht Foundation’s Tribute to the Future and Pratigi Carbon Offsetting programs, both of which are run by the Land Conservation Organization (OCT), an institution that is also part of the PDCIS. Through Tribute to the Future, Odebrecht members and partners set aside part of their income tax owed for investment in programs that foster high-quality rural education and the professional development of young talent in the Southern Bahia Lowlands. “I am sharing what the PDCIS is all about with everyone I know. I explain what that responsibility means and the impact of investing in Tribute to the Future, because we have a duty to make a contribution,” adds Carmen Luci de Freitas, from the Social Area of Odebrecht Environmental (Aquapolo).
At the OCT’s booth, participants were able to measure the environmental impact of their activities and offset the carbon dioxide produced. Marcela Nardelli, from Braskem’s Legal team, was one of them. “Carbon offsetting caught my attention because sometimes, all people think about is buying a new car and traveling by plane. But most don’t realize the environmental issue involved, and it’s important to make up for it, think about it from the other side and not just focus on unsustainable consumption.”
The Pratigi Carbon Offsetting Program allows any individual or business to calculate the amount of carbon dioxide they produce. All they have to do is access the OCT’s website and report how often they fly per year, what type of fuel they use, and whether they sort recyclable trash, among other data. The results are displayed in numbers of trees and the amount in Brazilian currency that will cover the cost of planting them. They can also pay that amount so OCT can do the planting. The offsets requested at the EOSP will make it possible to plant 136 trees in the Pratigi Environmental Protection Area in the Southern Bahia Lowlands.
Books containing the principles, concepts and criteria of the Odebrecht Entrepreneurial Technology were also on display and available for purchase in the “Reading Corner.” Additionally, members had an opportunity to donate publications to the libraries of the Rural Family House schools. By the end of the event, they had received donations of more than 300 titles.
“Southern Bahia Lowlands Week” at the EOSP was sponsored by the Group’s holding company, Odebrecht S.A., and Odebrecht Properties (OP), through its Facilities team. According to Marcos Lima, Leader of Facilities at OP, it is important to share this experience with the Group’s other offices. “It gave me an opportunity to get a first-hand look at the Odebrecht Foundation’s work, and that was the whole idea. That is our cause. Today it is a pleasure to witness the conclusion, the results we are reaping. I hope we can do it again elsewhere.”